The Texas State Bobcats have come a long way since joining the FBS in 2012 and they have a chance to give the Sun Belt Conference a boost hosting Southern Miss.
The fledging Sun Belt Conference program that has steadily improved since first joining the FBS in 2012 has a great chance to give both its program and its conference a boost Saturday night vs. a Conference USA team when the Southern Miss Golden Eagles (1-1, 2-0 ATS) pay a visit to those Texas State Bobcats (1-1, 1-1 ATS) at Bobcat Stadium in San Marcos, TX at 7:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.
The point spread at Bet365 has Texas State as a modest home favorite for this contest with the current line at -3 with odds of -105.
Southern Miss Covered vs. SEC Team
Texas State broke into the FBS with a 4-8 record in 2012, and the Bobcats then went to .500 at 6-6 in 2013 and were winning college football picks at 7-5 last season (9-3 ATS) in just their third season at college football’s top division! The Bobcats are also a sparkling 6-1 ATS in non-conference play since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2013, highlighted by a road cover at Illinois out of the Big Ten last year in a 42-35 near upset.
The Bobcats were outclassed in their season opener this year in a 59-16 loss at Florida State, but Texas State did rush for 132 yards in Tallahassee, which in retrospect was a great accomplishment considering how impenetrable the Seminoles have been since then this season. And indeed, the Bobcats followed up with a 63-24 annihilation of Prairie View A&M of the FCS last week, accumulating 649 total yards in the process.
Southern Miss also opened up vs. a Power 5 conference school on the road and the Golden Eagles actually covered the spread in a 34-16 loss in SEC territory at Mississippi State. The Eagles then followed up with a 52-6 blowout of Austin Peay of the FCS.
Bobcats Can Score on Anyone
Texas State has shown in its time in the FBS that it can put up points vs. just about anyone, and as mentioned the offense even showed positive signs while scoring only 16 points at Florida State. The Bobcats are led by a dual threat quarterback in junior Tyler Jones, who has completed 71.8 percent of his passes while throwing for 378 yards and three touchdowns without a pick and also adding 87 rushing yards on 5.8 yards per carry and one touchdown on the ground.
The Bobcats switched to an up-tempo offense last season with nice success, averaging 33.8 points and 464.3 total yards per game, and besides the junior Jones at quarterback, the Bobcats also returned senior tailback Robert Lowe and senior wide receiver C.J. Best, and that experience at the skill positions could take advantage of a Southern Miss defense that has fallen off badly in recent years.
Defensive Reputation No Longer Applies
Southern Miss built its reputation with defense and it still had the best defense in Conference USA a few short years ago. However, that unit has declined recently and the Golden Eagles finished ninth in the C-USA in total defense, 10th in rushing defense and 11th in scoring defense last season, and to make matters worse they lost defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches, who declared for the NFL Draft as a junior, and their top three tacklers as also gone.
Granted the Eagles held Austin Peay to a mere 189 total yards, but that does not mean much considering the FCS competition and the 442 yards allowed to Mississippi State is closer to what to expect from the Southern Miss defense this year on a weekly basis.
That means that the Golden Eagles will have to outscore their opponents this year to win games, and despite coming from a better conference, we are not so sure their offense can match the Texas State offense here.
Nice ATS Run
Finally, Texas State has been a reliable bet going 7-1 ATS in its last eight games overall, as well as 6-0 ATS in its last six games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in its previous game. Meanwhile, Southern Miss is 2-7 ATS its last nine games after allowing less than 170 passing yards its previous game.
Yes, Southern Miss probably represents a better team than Texas State is accustomed to facing inside the Sun Belt, but the Bobcats have a skilled and experienced offense that should be up for this challenge, which should lead to a nice win at home in San Marcos on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Texas State -3 (-105)